Just four months have passed since Jessica Cisneros presented her candidacy for Congress, but at 26, this immigration lawyer born in the border city of Laredo has aroused national interest and has raised more than $ 500,000 in donations from those who support her career by District 28 of Texas.
At the moment, the applicant already has the support of AOC (the acronym that identifies the young New York representative).
"Last year, District 14 of New York chose me as the youngest woman to serve in Congress. Let's help Jessica Cisneros break that record. Jessica is a powerful progressive fighter. Her victory will bring us closer to the United States. more fair ", wrote Ocasio-Cortez in a message on his Twitter account in which he offered his support.RELATED
The Cisneros candidacy is also backed by Justice Democrats, the progressive platform that in 2018 promoted AOC and Massachusetts congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and saw in the young Mexican lawyer the perfect candidate to represent the "new generation of diverse Democrats and working class "with which they want to renew the party.
“They (Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley) inspired an entire nation by sending a message that this is possible, that it can be won against people who have been in the office for many years and that this is possible if people join and demands a change, ”Cisneros told Univision News.
To achieve this, he must face in March Henry Cuellar, an old acquaintance. This is a politician for whom she worked as an intern and now defined as "Trump's favorite democrat" for his conservative ideals and his voting history aligned with the Republicans.
The spokesman of the campaign for the re-election of Cuellar, Colin Strother, minimizes the support of Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley or the senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren by saying that "it will not be the out-of-state support that decides the election but the voters of South Texas. "
Strother criticized that Cisneros "has only been in the district for about four months," referring to the years the young woman resided outside her hometown since she went to college and began her professional career. “It can hardly be the authority of the values and priorities” of the community that it aspires to represent.
A life marked by migration and the border
Cisneros was born in the border city of Laredo (Texas), where his parents moved years after migrating from Mexico in the 80s to be able to give medical treatment to his older sister that was not available in his country. Both worked as peasants before taking advantage of the immigration reform of Ronald Reagan in 1986 and then his father began working as a carrier and created his own business.
Since childhood, the Democratic candidate saw in her own flesh how her parents built the 'American dream', but also the difficulties of life at that point of the border where, according to the 2018 census estimate, more than 30% of the population still lives in poverty and more than 31% of adults under 65 do not have health insurance.
"My mother is a housewife. She always dedicated herself to me and my sister and we also saw how difficult it was to get her two daughters ahead. Like many people here, my father worked two, three jobs to get us ahead," he says. Cisneros in an interview with Univision News.
According to him, things got complicated especially for his family after the attacks of September 11, when the government of George W. Bush increased security at the border, which resulted in more obstacles to binational trade that led to his father. To close your transport business.
"Although I was very small, I noticed that things were different, that it was very difficult, that my parents were looking for ways to get ahead," he recalls. "But those are two values we have here in South Texas: family and work very hard and that's how we got ahead. My parents always taught us that the study was how we were going to get out of it. "
"And now my parents are proud parents of lawyer Cisneros and Dr. Cisneros," she says when she says that her older sister graduated from the medical school, while she, after leaving as number 1 of her high school, graduated as a lawyer .
As a student, Cisneros also had the opportunity to do an internship at the Capitol in Washington, DC and between January and April 2014 he worked at the Cuellar office, an experience that, he says, marked her and made her think that maybe she too some Day could come to Congress.
“I didn't know what a conservative (sic) or republican record the congressman had. It took me to have to go to his office and work there to realize that, ”he says. "Now I know it's because he hasn't had a person in front of him, an opponent in more than a decade and that's why he has been able to vote as he and his donors will please."
What struck him the most, he says, was that after working in his office for four months full-time, Cuellar never asked for his opinion on the problems in his district. "That got me to thinking that if you are not doing it with me that I am there 40 hours a week what you are not doing for the community that does not have that access to your office," he says.
But, according to Cisneros, what really led him to make the decision to appear in Congress was the frustration he felt working as an immigration lawyer with migrant families held in detention centers in the face of the growing obstacles imposed by the Donald Trump government.
"I was working with families that tried to keep together, but working with this administration is very difficult," he says. "I listened to immigration judges tell me that they wanted to help me and my client but that they could not by the laws. There came a point where I said: 'Well, if you are telling me that laws are the problem, then I will go to Congress and I'm going to change the laws, '"he recalls.
The establishment vs. the progressive wing
"My community still has the problems that I saw when I was growing up. Poverty is still a very strong problem here, we still don't have access to medical care. There are many things that I decided to no longer, that we deserve (something) better, "the aspirant told Univision News.
The district for which Cisneros is presented, on the 28th of Texas, which extends from a wide stretch of the US-Mexico border to the south of the city of San Antonio, has long been faithful to the Democrats. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won by 20 points and Henry Cuellar was comfortably re-elected with 84% of the vote.
Cisneros believes that this is because Cuellar has never had opposition within his own party. "It is not logical to be represented by a person who is very conservative and does not reflect the ideals and values we have in South Texas," says the lawyer. And he illustrates that the congressman voted "in favor of Trump initiatives 70% of the time."
Campaign spokesman Colin Strother said Cuellar "always puts the district above the party and politics and votes in the best interest of the taxpayers for whom he works."
"Our opponent promotes radical policies that will eliminate thousands of jobs in the region and lead to hundreds of layoffs accordingly," the Cuellar spokesman warned.
Among other ideas, Cisneros promotes a minimum wage increase of $ 15, health insurance accessible to all and has joined the verde green pact ’sponsored by Ocasio Cortez through which energy production would pass from fossil fuels to renewable sources.
However, the contest for District 28 is a reflection of the battle that exists between the Democratic establishment and the most progressive wing of the party at the national level. While Cisneros has the support of congressmen who represent the new face of politics in Washington and Emily's List, an organization that promotes women's political participation, Cuellar has added the support of some of the most influential figures in her party as the leader of the Democratic majority in Congress, Nancy Pelosi, or Illinois congresswoman Cheri Bustos.
The emergence of Cisneros nationwide has made his campaign raise $ 500,000 in donations despite rejecting money from large corporations. But Cisneros is not afraid of the momentum his campaign is taking in a few months.
"I keep making my arguments, but instead of doing it in front of a judge I do it in front of the district," he says. "The American dream still exists and I am struggling to make it available to more families."
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